Nov 15

Who’s next, the Easter Bunny?

Like some crazy, out-of-control cancer cell, the P.C. police are at it again. This time, it’s their AussieSanta_2
division, and they’ve targeted jolly old St. Nick’s signature expression.

Afraid that Australian women might be offended by a street corner Santa shouting ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ local companies are advising that Santa ‘actors’ use a more politically correct ‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’

This is so absurd it makes me want to cry out, ‘Ha!’ Do Aussie women really think Santa is calling them prostitutes? If so, are they, perhaps, a bit self-absorbed?

The P.C. police are modern-day Nazi storm troopers, forcing their world views of what’s right on the rest of us. And, sadly, there’s no end in sight.

Having muzzled Santa, what other fictional characters are next?

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Nov 14

Hey, did you hear about this way harsh Chicago PR firm that, like, fires people for gossiping?

Yeah, so anyway, get this: some Chicago PR firm has fired three of its workers for spreading gossip andGossip_2
now enforces a strict no-gossip rule at all times. Seriously, it seems the head guy didn’t like the backbiting and rumor mongering going on at his firm and, like, whacked the three biggest gossips. Seems way drastic, no? I mean, god, I’d be afraid to say anything about anyone. Like forever.

Also, how did the CEO know who the actual gossipers were? And, like how does he know someone isn’t, like, spreading malicious lies about someone else being a gossip? Like how does this dude know the point of origin? And, what’s with the pink slip? Like, wow, whacking people for talking behind other people’s backs? That’s almost anti-American. Jefferson and Adams constantly planted rumors and spread gossip about one another. So did Lincoln and Douglas. Even our boy W. had his storm troopers spreading all those nasty Swift Boat rumors about poor old John Kerry. Gossiping is as American as apple pie and baseball.

So, like, wow, where does the gossip rule start and where does it end? Will this PR firm also fire any vendors it thinks are gossiping behind its back? And, suppose the CEO caught himself making fun of one worker’s habitually bad breath? Would he fire himself?

Like, wow, I’m thinking this firing thing might just be a tad too harsh and a tad too self-centered. Like, ok, if you want to do it, do it. But why gossip about it?

Nov 13

Chris, Brett and Toulouse-Lautrec would be pleased

In a true triumph of facts over fiction, absinthe is once again being peddled to non teetotalingAbsinthe_3

Yes, the bad boy of the spirits world is no longer ethereal. Two new
brands of absinthe, which was banned in 1912, are now available for
purchase. And, how cool is that?

Scientific tests have proven that, when consumed in moderation,
absinthe is not the liquid version of heroin or crack cocaine. Nor will
it drive drinkers to emulate the excesses of van Gogh, Lautrec or Oscar

I first became aware of absinthe’s effects a few years back. It was
then that Ted ‘Ludicris’ Birkhahn and I traveled to Munich for a
combination business and pleasure trip. Once ‘in country,’ we connected
with Chris ‘Repman, Jr’ Cody, his fellow Peppercom/Europe Intern, Brett
Lichtmann, and P’com Euro MD Jacki Vause.

It was there that Ms. Vause introduced Chris and Brett to absinthe (an experience I don’t think either will ever forget).

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Nov 12

Religiously pursuing profits

Televangelists sure give fundamental Christianity a black eye. These self-righteous men and womenPlate
pound their podiums, thump their chests and offer lots of false hope: all in the name of Jesus and the Almighty Dollar.

So, it’s nice to see the government finally step in and investigate the charlatans who preach poverty but live in the lap of luxury.

Ah, there’s nothing like a good Congressional investigation to put the fear of God in a double-talking, bible-thumping fraud. And, while there are undoubtedly some legitimate preachers out there, my gut tells me the majority simply prey (pun intended) on the fears and ignorance of the great unwashed masses.

Organized religion deserves its checkered image and reputation. Too many scam artists have hurt too many unsuspecting faithful over the years.

So, let the investigations begin. And, hopefully, some of these profit-hungry pastors will be doing their preaching in prison and not on the boob tube.

Nov 09

As written by today’s college graduates, communications are being weakened by a dependence on passivity

The active voice is an endangered species. College kids and recent grads uniformly write in the passiveWriting
voice. And, I’m at a loss as to explain why.

Is it the rise of text messaging? I don’t think so, because text by nature is short and to the point. Is it a lame attempt by kids to complete eight to 10-page-long term papers? Or, is it a misguided attempt to demonstrate intellect?

I wouldn’t mind if passivity wasn’t so pervasive. And, since poorly structured, verbose sentences reflect poorly on the writer, I think the entire topic needs more discussion. I’d invite thoughts from academics, PR professionals and others (med supply execs need not weigh in). I also plan to interview a few experts and post follow-up blogs next week.

In other words, and in the spirit of today’s blog, "…a healthy discussion from which much can be learned would be my goal."

Colter’s corollary:

Passive voice is acceptable or may even be required in sentences where you need to shine the spotlight on a certain word, such as putting a client name at the start. And an occasional passive sentence can break up a string of staccato declarative sentences. But generally prefer and strive for the active voice.

Nov 08

Yup, we’ve got those

A Randstad USA poll of nearly 2,500 U.S. workers found gossip and ‘reply-to-all’ e-mails were the biggestGossip_2
office nuisances. No surprise there. What I did find interesting, though, were such other ‘irksome’ things as:

– Unwashed dishes in kitchen sinks (that drives our receptionist over the edge)
– Potent smells like perfume, food or smoke (occasionally a pungent Middle Eastern takeout lunch will totally disrupt our office. And, I used to work for a guy who lit a cherry tobacco pipe every workday at 5pm. Talk about overpowering. Ugh.)
– Speaker phones (when I did my job swap for a day, I literally couldn’t concentrate at times because a certain someone was sooooo loud on her speakerphone)
– Loud talking (we have a few prime candidates)

As the number one ‘reply-to-all’ e-mail offender of all time, I thought I’d also list a few office pet peeves not found on the list:

– People who come into the office sick as dogs and summarily infect others
– People who use their blackberries during management meetings
– people who neglect the courtesy flush in the men’s room (now known generically as "pulling a Bray" within our office)

The other interesting finding in the Randstad survey (btw, who or what is a Randstad?) is the worker complacency about such transgressions: only one in four would confront a loudmouth; only 33 percent would say something to a rumormonger and only one in four would complain about reply-to-all e-mails.

Maybe working alongside passive-aggressive employees should be another pet peeve?

Nov 07

Anything but heartwarming

It’s the first really cold Fall morning and, sure enough, they’re back. ‘They’ in this case refers to the
asinine men who, for reasons best known only to them, refuse to wear topcoats in cold weather. And, sad to say, it is always men who violate ‘change of season’ dress codes.

As I write this, it’s a brisk and bracing 37 degrees at the Middletown train station. The women commuters are bundled up (some to excess, it must be said). And most guys seem warm, if not happy, in their jackets, coats and hats.

But, then there’s the guy who comes sauntering along in his buttondown, longsleeve Brooks Brothers shirt acting as if it’s the Fourth of July. And, there’s another guy wearing a t-shirt, sportsjacket and, in his only acknowledgement of the frigid temps, a dashing scarf wrapped around his neck.

Tough guys who don’t feel the cold always have their hands shoved into their pant pockets, walk at breakneck speed and have a grimace permanently planted on their kissers.

What are they trying to prove: that they’re impervious to chills? That they’re throwbacks to John Wayne, Dick Butkus and other ‘real’ men?

Give me a break. The ‘I’m a tough guy in cold weather image’ is totally bogus. And, it sends the wrong message to kids who, almost universally, now seem to disdain outerwear in Winter. So, what’s with these thick-skinned macho nuts? They may think they’re cool, but the only image they’re projecting to me is one of stupidity.

Nov 06

Ted’s talking tips trigger tempest.

Steve and Ted debate the notion that talking too much during a job interview may kill your chances ofRep_logo_3
getting hired. 

The discussion is centered on a Wall Street Journal article by Joann Lublin in which she argues that talking too much during a job interview can create a poor impression and cut short the hiring manager’s time for further questions.

With the pressures of getting hired how should one prepare?  Should you come to an interview with a rehearsed script?  Or should you keep the interview free flowing? Is there a such thing as sharing too much information about yourself?

Nov 05

G.P.A.’s are M.I.A. when it comes to a hiring decision

Like many of his fellow college seniors, Chris ‘Repman, Jr.’, Cody is stressing out big time about his gradeGrade
point average (GPA). Believing that a 3.75 rather than, say, a 3.4 will determine his future prospects, Chris is spending hour after hour at the library, pulling all-nighters and volunteering for extra-credit assignments.

To which I say, ‘chill.’ A GPA means almost nothing to a prospective employer and, to the best of my recollection, has never, ever come up in the course of an actual interview.

Employers, instead, look for relevant work-study experience. We also prize grads who, prior to the interview, take the time to study our firm and understand our value proposition. Last, but not least, we want friendly, outgoing people who will fit in with our culture.

If I were to grade the image and reputation of a GPA in the hiring process, I’d give it a 1.0.

Colleges and universities need to do a much better job of educating students about the irrelevance of grades to the workplace. And, I’d love to debate anyone who thinks differently.

As one of Rep, Jr’s UVM professors would say, ‘Questions? Comments? Issues?’

Nov 02

Safeguarding the brand of you

Far too many young PR professionals have inflicted ‘image’ wounds on themselves, their agencies andWired
their clients by not grasping the subtleties of digital communications. Now comes further proof that the image you save may be your own.

Hundreds of ‘lazy’ publicists were just ousted by Wired. Their transgression: not familiarizing themselves with either the publication or the individual Wired editors. As punishment, the editor listed each and every offender’s e-mail address and said he’d blacklist them moving forward. Sadly, this public humiliation will now follow these individuals as they move from job to job.

Haste makes waste (as does sloppiness). Wired was right for calling out the lazy publicists. It’s a painful, but hopefully productive way for these individuals to learn the importance of safeguarding ‘the brand of you.’

Thanks to Stephanie Chaney for the idea.